• YouTube Pulls Romney Ad After Music Publisher Complains
    On Monday, the campaign for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney posted an ad on YouTube that featured Barack Obama singing Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." The clip, "Political Payoffs and Middle-Class Layoffs," -- which uses around nine seconds of the song -- reportedly aims to show that Obama rewarded campaign donors while regular Americans struggled in the sputtering economy. An Obama campaign spokesperson told the Washington Post that the ad was a "false line of attack." That might be, but most Web users don't have any way to judge the ad for themselves. That's because the clip was only available ...
  • Kellogg Ruling Bolsters Argument Against Sponsored-Stories Settlement
    Last week, some consumer advocacy groups weighed in against Facebook's tentative settlement of a lawsuit about the sponsored stories program. Now, a new ruling in a separate class-action lawsuit is giving those groups additional ammunition. In that case -- a false advertising lawsuit against Kellogg -- the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals scuttled a settlement agreement that called for charities to receive up $5.5 million worth of food and for attorneys to receive $2 million.
  • Mobile Users Don't Want To Share Data With Apps Or Carriers
    Earlier this year, mobile apps Path and Hipster were caught uploading users' address books without telling them. Both companies apparently did so in order to suggest friends for users, but that explanation didn't do very much to stem criticism by watchdogs -- not to mention class-action lawyers, who promptly sued those companies. Now, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have released a new study, "Mobile Phones and Privacy," confirming what should have been obvious to app developers: The vast majority of people don't want to be snooped on by their apps.
  • Judge Who Ok'd Beacon Deal Takes Over Sponsored Stories Case
    The "sponsored stories" lawsuit against Facebook has been transferred to U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg, who now must decide whether to allow a controversial proposed settlement to move forward.
  • Advocates Slam 'Sponsored Stories' Settlement
    Facebook's tentative settlement of the "sponsored stories" lawsuit ran into more opposition this week, when the advocacy group Center for Digital Democracy filed papers arguing that the deal should be nixed.
  • FTC Poised To Fine Google $22.5M For Tracking Safari Users
    The Federal Trade Commission is close to finalizing a deal with Google that calls for it to pay $22.5 million to settle charges that it circumvented Apple users' privacy settings, The Wall Street Journal reports. The enforcement action and record-breaking fine grow out of a report by Stanford grad student Jonathan Meyer outlining how Google, PointRoll, the WPP's Media Innovation Group and Vibrant Media circumvented the Safari browser's no-tracking settings.
  • FTC Slow To Expose Online Privacy Issues
    Wired recently ran a ProPublica report detailing how Stanford grad student Jonathan Mayer seemed to discover before the Federal Trade Commission that Google was circumventing Safari users' no-tracking settings. The piece, "Your FTC Privacy Watchdogs: Low-Tech, Defensive, Toothless," shows how FTC staff are hampered by the office's technology -- including computers with filters that prevent people from accessing key sites. At least one FTC employee reportedly investigates Web companies on his personal laptop, which he tethers to an iPhone.
  • Advocacy Group Drops Challenge To Neutrality Rules
    When the Federal Communications Commission passed neutrality rules in 2010, the move didn't seem to leave anyone completely happy. Broadband providers said the FCC has no business regulating the Web at all. On the other hand, some consumer advocates said the rules didn't go far enough. The regulations themselves prohibit all carriers from blocking or degrading traffic. The rules also ban wireline providers -- but not wireless ones -- from engaging in unreasonable discrimination. Telecoms as well as an advocacy group filed lawsuits last year, after the rules were published in the Federal Register.
  • Cisco Retreats From New Privacy Policy
    It was supposed to be a user-friendly update. But Cisco's rollout of its new cloud service has turned into a textbook example of what not to do when tinkering with consumers' products.
  • Twitter Ordered To Turn Over Protester's Info
    A judge in New York has ordered Twitter to hand over information connected with Occupy Wall Street protester Malcolm Harris's former Twitter account -- including his tweets over a 10-week period and the IP addresses connected with them.
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